Ayurveda and Yoga go hand in hand, but what does Ayurveda really mean? Where does it come from, and what is it exactly?
With this short post, I want to give you a quick sneak peek into the ancient science of healing.
Ayurveda (Sanskrit: आयुर्वेद) is a holistic system of medicine, which originates and is still widely practiced in India.
The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term and literally translated, means “science of life” – “ayu” meaning life/daily living and “veda” meaning knowledge.
Ayurvedic medicine goes back 5000 years and was already mentioned in the Vedas, one of the most important bodies of text from ancient India.
Dhanvatari (Sanskrit: धन्वन्तरि) appears in the Vedas as the physician of the gods and the god of Ayurvedic medicine.
Ayurvedic practitioners believe human beings are microcosms; we are universes within ourselves. As children of the cosmic forces, we are one with the total cosmic manifestation.
Health and “disease” are viewed in holistic terms, taking into account the inherent relationship between the individual and cosmic spirit, individual and cosmic consciousness, energy and matter. (“Ayurveda – The Science of Self-Healing, Dr. Vasad Lad, 1985, p 18ff)
Ayurvedic doctors do not solemnly treat sickness, they first and foremost treat the patient with natural medication, in order to maintain health and remove disease. Treatments are not solemnly focused on the body, but also address the mind, sense organs and the soul.
The Human Constitution – The Three Doshas
In Ayurvedic views, the five elements – Ether/Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth – manifest as three basic principles in our bodies, the three Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
The Yoga Sutras say “The five elements with their infrastructure and the gunas (attributes of nature) activate the individual self, either for sensual pleasure or for spiritual bliss (II.18). “The Core of the Yoga Sutras”, B. K. S. Iyengar.
From the elements Ether and Air, the bodily air principle is manifested. This is the Vata – Dosha.
From the elements Fire and Water, the bodily fire principle, Pitta, is created. And from the elements Earth and Water, Kapha, the bodily water humor is created.
These three elements – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – govern all the biological, psychological and physiological functions of the body, mind and consciousness.
Dosha itself is translated into “fault”, meaning that if you are out of balance, one of your principles is at fault.
The basic constitution of each individual is determined at conception and it stays with a human being his or her entire life. Of course through influences our mind set, and also body changes but our constitution stays the same. We are genetically programmed, and so are the Doshas.
What Dosha are you?
Try out this online Dosha Test and find out, which Dosha is predominant in your body: http://www.holisticonline.com/ayurveda/w_ayurveda-dtest1.htm
Taking the Dosha test may help you understanding your body a little bit better. Which foods work better for you, how to increase or decrease your fire, which yoga practice feels better for your constitution or which yoga asana/pose can balance your Doshas.
Another great way of learning and seeing more about Ayurvedic practices and healing treatments, is the movie “Ayurveda – The Art of Being”, a documentary, that gives an incredible insight into the ancient healing practices of the Indian Subcontinent. Watch it for free: Ayurveda - The Art of Being
A personal note at the end:
Whether or not you believe in Indian philosophy, Hinduism, or the ancient, oriental views of the world, the cosmos and human beings… I strongly believe Ayurvedic medicine provides an abundance of healing methods and raises awareness of your body, your mind and soul.
We are very complex beings and from my experience, after learning more about my bodily constitution, I was able to understand my body and mind a little better and hence, become more balanced.
For example through minor diet changes I was able to maintain being centred and I started to incorporate easy remedies into my daily routine which work very well for my body, were not time consuming and inexpensive: i. e. oil pulling, nasal irrigation, ginger tea etc.
Check it out, try it out and open your mind and heart towards something new, maybe unusual for the Western world, nevertheless ancient, holy and beautiful!
- Blog Sources:
“Ayurveda – The Science of Self-Healing”, Dr. Vasad Lad, 1985
“Core of the Yoga Sutras”, B. K. S. Iyengar, 2012